A Laughable Hippie Revenge Saga
“Clay Pigeon” is an amateurish, heavy-handed vanity project for producer/co-director/star Tom Stern that flopped when it was released in 1972.
Stern is Joe Ryan, an ex-cop and Vietnam vet who’s now a homeless, cart-pushing hippie living on the streets of Hollywood. In one of his many random acts of sticking it to The Man, Joe steals a cop’s motorcycle and takes it on a joyride before getting tossed in jail, where he’s made an offer by rogue FBI agent Redford (Telly Savalas): go undercover and infiltrate the heroin smuggling operation of L.A. drug lord Neilson (Robert Vaughn). When Joe refuses, Redford sets him up to be mistaken for Neilson in some nonsensical attempt to draw Neilson out of hiding. All come together for an impressively bloody shootout at the Hollywood Bowl. Stern (who has never directed another movie) and co-director Lane Slate (who went on to write numerous TV movies and a few theatrical releases.
Other than the finale, nothing works in “Clay Pigeon.” Redford’s plan makes no sense (and why is Savalas, for no reason, shown in one scene shirtless and staggering around a fleabag hotel room with his hands in restraints? In the next scene, he’s wearing a suit and whatever was going on in the hotel room is never referenced again). The film is mainly just Stern walking around or going to strip joints, or hanging out with some free-loving lady friends who can’t help but throw themselves at a smelly homeless guy. Stern has a couple of nude scenes, including one where he and two full-frontal hotties in all their ’70s glory frolicki in a swimming pool threesome, a scene producer Tom Stern, in conjunction with co-director Tom felt was a necessary component to the development of the character played by star Stern who tries to make some big social statements throughout.